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Stories from patients, family, friends and Mayo Clinic staff

Paul Scotti

Paul Scotti (@pscotti)

Activity by Paul Scotti

Paul Scotti

Tue, Apr 21 at 9:24am CDT by Paul Scotti · View  

Living Kidney Donations Save Two Lives in the Same Family Years Apart

TammyStelly805Receiving a donor kidney from an anonymous deceased donor is a gift of life to anyone in need of a transplant.  Receiving an organ donation from a living family member is extra special, when you consider the risks and sacrifices associated with making that choice.

Tammy Stelly, a 46-year-old retired postal worker from Middleburg, Florida, experienced that special gift when her brother-in-law was found to be a compatible match and became her living kidney donor.

“I was overwhelmed that he offered to be tested as a possible match,” says Tammy. “I never imagined that we might actually be a compatible match.”

Tammy isn’t the first member of her family to have kidney disease, nor was she the first to receive a kidney transplant from a living donor who also is a family member. One of her relatives received a kidney from his daughter many years ago, and lived another 17 years before passing away due to unrelated causes.  [...]

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Paul Scotti

Wed, Apr 1 at 8:00am CDT by Paul Scotti · View  

Dialysis Patient Stays Active, Sets New Life Goals While Awaiting a Kidney Transplant

Mayo Clinic patient, 57 year-old Jim McGarry of Fruit Cove, Florida, a diagnosis of End Stage Renal Disease (ESRD) that has required him to go on dialysis three days a week while he awaits a donor kidney hasn’t gotten him down.

Mayo Clinic patient Jim McGarry says a diagnosis of end-stage renal disease that has required him to go on dialysis three days a week while he awaits a donor kidney hasn’t gotten him down.

If you’re diagnosed with a serious illness, it can be easy to get down and wonder why this is happening to you and how will it affect your future goals and dreams. For 57-year-old Jim McGarry of Fruit Cove, Florida, a diagnosis of end-stage renal disease that has required him to go on dialysis three days a week while he awaits a donor kidney hasn’t gotten him down. If anything, it’s given him the motivation to push himself to set and achieve new life goals.

“Finding out I had kidney disease in 2012, after being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes 10 years earlier, was a wake-up call for me about how I was living my life,” says Jim. “I used to travel a lot, didn’t eat right, and didn’t get enough exercise, but that all changed once I realized I needed to deal with my health issues. Then I started to make some much-needed changes to regain my health and re-evaluate the priorities in my life.”

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Paul Scotti

Fri, Feb 20 at 8:04am CDT by Paul Scotti · View  

World Record Skydiver Credits 'Sam' for the Ability to Live Life at 100 mph

Kim Dobson, 63, of Oveido, Florida, skydiving.

He’s a former Green Beret who served in Somalia. He’s a record-holding skydiver with several thousand jumps under his belt since he began leaping out of airplanes at age 18. And he’s a liver transplant recipient, who affectionately refers to his transplanted organ as “Sam.”

Kim Dobson, 63, of Oveido, Florida, is the definition of someone who lives life to the fullest. He not only participates in national and international skydiving competitions, but also scuba dives, plays golf, and enjoys shooting sports. With both a sports and military background, he was active, fit and the picture of health. But that all changed in 1994, after knee surgery and after undergoing a series of tests for back pain. Told he had elevated liver enzymes, Kim was eventually diagnosed with type 3 hepatitis C. Surprised but confident he could beat his disease and resume his active lifestyle, he went through three cycles/47 weeks of interferon treatments at a hospital in Birmingham, Alabama.

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Paul Scotti

Wed, Feb 18 at 9:46am CDT by Paul Scotti · View  

Faith and Mayo Clinic Help Cancer Survivor Overcome Multiple Health Battles

Mayo Clinic patient Donald Jones, of Ponte Vedra, Florida, with his wife.

Mayo Clinic patient Donald Jones, of Ponte Vedra, Florida, with his wife, Beth.

When 53-year-old Donald Jones of Ponte Vedra, Florida, found out he had lung cancer, the former smoker accepted it as a challenge that he was prepared to fight and win. Little did he know the other serious health issues that lay ahead, which would create serious new challenges for him over the next year.

An avid golfer and hiker, Donald could tell something wasn’t right with his breathing after a hiking trip to the Smoky Mountains in 2013. A visit to his physician resulted in tests that showed a spot on his lung. It was cancer. He called Mayo Clinic for an appointment with a pulmonologist. There, he was told he’d need surgery to remove the lung tumor. For about three months after the surgery, everything seemed fine, and he was fortunate not to require additional radiation or chemotherapy to prevent recurrence of his cancer.

What came next began a series of medical events that would threaten even the most optimistic patient’s resolve. [...]

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Paul Scotti

Tue, Jan 27 at 3:19pm CDT by Paul Scotti · View  

Surviving Hepatitis C -- A Patient’s Journey Through Two Liver Transplants

Mayo Clinic patient Nellie Betancourt (left) with her husband Marcelo Castro on the Mayo Clinic in Florida campus January 2015.

Mayo Clinic patient Nellie Betancourt (left) with her husband Marcelo Castro on Mayo Clinic's Florida campus in January 2015.

 

For most organ transplant recipients, receiving the “gift of life” is a one-time experience. But for Nellie Betancourt, battling the hepatitis C virus that had been in hiding in her body for years required another “second chance at life,” thanks to a second generous donor and a new generation of anti-viral drugs.

Betancourt, a 56-year-old mother of two and grandmother of seven from Puerto Rico, was first diagnosed with elevated liver enzymes during a routine exam in 1995. Further testing revealed a positive result for the hepatitis C virus, which resulted in several rounds of standard anti-viral drug treatments over the next several years, none of which were successful in effectively managing her disease. This began a 20-year battle with hepatitis C that was to eventually include two liver transplants performed at Mayo Clinic’s Florida campus.

“By 2002, I was told that my liver enzymes were rapidly increasing, and that I’d eventually need a liver transplant or face liver failure,” says Betancourt. “I was only 42 years old at the time.” [...]

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Paul Scotti

Sep 11, 2014 by Paul Scotti · View  

Mayo Clinic Clinical Trial Helps Physician Take On Multiple Myeloma

Dr. Mike Mass undergoes treatment for multiple myeloma at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

When 69-year-old allergist and rheumatologist Mike Mass. M.D., was diagnosed with multiple myeloma in August 2013, he quickly realized that being the patient and trusting the advice of a fellow physician with expertise in a disease outside of his realm of expertise would be a challenge.

“I’ve always advocated open communications with my patients about their treatment options, as it’s important for the physician and patient to be on the same page,” says Dr. Mass. “Although I’m not a cancer expert, I know enough about the disease to ask lots of questions of my own oncologist on the best treatment options available. It was hard balancing the need to express my opinions without impeding my physician’s own expert medical judgment.”

Dr. Mass was in private practice in the Jacksonville, Florida, area for more than 30 years before going part-time and joining an allergy group practice in 2008. That’s where he worked until his diagnosis in 2013, when he finally decided to retire from practicing medicine. He had known he was at a greater risk for contracting multiple myeloma for many years because of a condition called monoclonal gammopathy of undetermined significance , or MGUS, which he was diagnosed with decades ago. MGUS is a condition in which an abnormal protein (M protein) is found in the blood. That increases the risk of developing multiple myeloma at some point in the patient’s life. Dr. Mass had no symptoms but found out several years ago after some blood work that his M protein levels were at the point where he now had “smoldering myeloma,” an early phase of this cancer condition. [...]

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Paul Scotti

Aug 25, 2014 by Paul Scotti · View  

Physician Experiences the Mayo “Patient Experience” After Double Lung Transplant

Joseph J. Tepas III, M.D., a 68-year-old pediatric surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida, who had idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and later a lung transplant at Mayo Clinic in Florida.

When a doctor suddenly becomes the patient with a life-threatening illness, Mayo Clinic’s commitment to high-quality medical care that puts the needs of the patient first takes on fresh perspective, especially as it relates to the principle of compassionate care, which is a hallmark of Mayo Clinic.

Such was the case when Joseph J. Tepas III, M.D., a 68-year-old pediatric surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida, learned that the wheezing and shortness of breath he was experiencing turned out to be idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis, a potentially life-threatening disease that occurs from unexplained scarring of the lung tissue.

In addition to doing pediatric surgery, Dr. Tepas is a practicing trauma surgeon and surgical intensivist. He is the medical director of the region’s only pediatric trauma unit, and, as a retired captain in the Navy Reserve, appreciates the critical importance of maintaining a personal commitment to health and fitness. Dr. Tepas had always lived a healthy lifestyle and, other than some occasional allergy symptoms, never had any significant health issues. But lying dormant in his otherwise healthy body was a disease that was quietly scarring and shutting his lungs down.

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Paul Scotti

Aug 13, 2014 by Paul Scotti · View  

Leukemia Survivor Volunteers in a Unique Way to Help Fellow Bone Marrow Transplant Recipients

Charlie Willwerth, a 61 year-old leukemia survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient from St. Augustine, Fla. is taking the necessary steps to help bring life-saving stems cells to others in need of a bone marrow transplant. Some people who overcome a life-threatening illness feel motivated to give something back to those who helped make their recovery possible. Charlie Willwerth, a 61-year-old leukemia survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient from St. Augustine, Florida, is taking steps to help bring life-saving stems cells to others in need of a bone marrow transplant.

Two years out from his bone marrow transplant, and with his leukemia in remission, Charlie recently completed courier training with Be The Match, the world’s largest bone marrow registry, to become a volunteer stem cell courier. His new “job” -- transporting life-saving stem cells from a donor’s location to a matching recipient -- can take him anywhere in the world.

“This is the most direct way I can help others who have helped me get a second chance at life,” says Charlie. “If it wasn’t for my donor, I might not be here today to have the opportunity to help others with needs similar to mine.” [...]

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